I’ve started this exact post quite a few times but given up. I don’t know how to start, I don’t know where to start. I suppose I’ll start by telling you he’s my best friend… but he wasn’t once upon a time.
I don’t know much about my dads childhood it’s not really talked about, all I know is Grandma and Granddad had grown to hate each other but stayed together for the sake of Dad and my Aunt until they had flown the nest. What I do know about my dads past is he was a biker before he was even old enough to ride. He also joined the army, he was part of the Royal Military Police and spent quite some time in Ireland and that is about all I know about that.
Though I do know that in his time in his biker gang he saw a lot of his ‘brothers’ die from fatal road traffic incidents. Now I can’t comment too much on this because I have watched far too much Sons of Anarchy and so my imagination goes a little bit crazy… dad doesn’t talk too much about his time with his biker gang. Dad met my Godfather in this club and my mums childhood best friend. Both of which I’m sure would tell me anything I wanted to know if I asked… but I am not sure I want to know.
Anyway, as an adult I learnt of such things as PTSD and depression and the many tablets that were hidden in the top cupboard in my childhood home, now I know better I can point to my dad and say that is it, that is why he was an unstable dad. (I hate typing this, I hate saying my dad was anything but perfect. My dad is now the best dad anyone could ask for, he is now my best friend and even in those dark days he had his days where he shone and taught me so much and loved me unconditionally.)
I’ve blocked out a lot of the bruises and how I got them, I prefer it that way anyway, but I do remember the shouting, the screaming and at the end of it all the crying all on my own. My dad was a terrifying man. I remember the way he used to check our bedrooms were tidy and clean, He’d make us stand in the middle whilst he would check every nook and cranny. If he found anything not quite perfect he’d rip it all out and throw it at your feet, heaven forbid he broke anything in the process because that would be our fault too and would result in further punishment. The one bedroom cleaning I remember the most was this;
We weren’t a particularly well off family, furniture was cheap or second hand. Furniture broke quite easily! I had a shelving unit that had a flimsy back held on with one or two nails and the nails had given up holding the back in place, the back fell off and I tried so hard to hide this fact, but with dads army regimented bedroom checks he found it clinging on for dear life. He slammed my back against the wall and shouted about having no respect, he proceeded to repeatedly hit me in the face so my skull bounced off of the wall, his palm flat against my nose pushing my head back with ever blow telling me how the unit had broken because I had been ‘ramming things in like this’. All I could think was ‘he’s trying to kill me.’ I can’t remember what made him stop, or if mum was there. All I remember is the pain and the loneliness I felt as he left me and went to go and treat my brother even worse.
My brother got it worse because he always brought home bad school reports, got in to regular fights and never kept his bedroom clean. There was a few times my mum had to ring the school to say he couldn’t come in due to a stomach upset… his stomach was never upset, he was just heavily bruised.
My mum didn’t get away with it lightly either, she’d often be found crying after dad had punched a hole in a door and left the house after arguing about money, or parenting, or how mums clothes were horrible, or how this wasn’t right, that wasn’t perfect so on and so forth. Brother and me trying our best to make mum stop crying despite being too young to understand.
Dad didn’t like us crying either or showing weakness. I regularly came home from school sucking it up and putting on a brave face despite whatever the bullies had done that day. Often though whatever the bullies were doing was too much to not come home and crash. I’d cry, dad would ask why, dad would find a way to make it all my fault anyway… I must be doing something for the bullies to be treating me this way, I must have been in the wrong.
In all the beatings, all the shouting and all the discipline I only remember one apology from dad. That’s the day mum walked out of the house, she wasn’t gone long but it was long enough. Dad shouted me from my room (I think I was 6) and of course out of fear you never ignore that shout. I walked downstairs with legs like jelly and feet like lead only to find my dad sat in the corner with an empty glass just finishing his cigarette. He said ‘come here’ so I went and stood by his feet only for him to scoop me up in his arms and on to his lap to cry with me and repeatedly say sorry. That cigarette and whisky breath was the most comforting thing I had smelt in years, I thought this was going to be it, no more. I was wrong but I clung on to that memory as a reminder that dad was hurting too.
Brother took it all out on me, he’d hit me or strangle me telling me it was my fault dad was like this. Brother wasn’t very nice and I still haven’t forgiven him despite all the times we played nicely as children and all the times as adults we have hung out. Truth be told I hate him but I do nice things with him to make mum and dad happy. I’d write him off completely if I could.
Once in the middle of the night at a VERY young age I needed a wee but I was too afraid. The bathroom was downstairs and so was dad, I had gone in to my brothers room to ask if he would come downstairs with me. Only for him to punch me hard for waking him up. I cried and ended up wetting myself alone and ashamed in my bedroom and trying to hide it. This happened too often and eventually the smell of my carpet became an issue. Dad shouted, mum sourced a replacement carpet that wouldn’t cost anything. It took 2 carpets for me to break the habit.
Once early in the morning I’d woken up unable to draw in a breath, I couldn’t get any air in and again I was too afraid to bother dad who was still asleep. So I went downstairs and tried to get words out to tell my brother what was happening. He got annoyed that I was awake early and punched me so hard in the back of the head I momentarily blacked out. The crying and the shock of the pain must have helped me draw in breath, I went back to my room and cried alone until I fell back to sleep and woke to my mum unwrapping the blankets from me telling me I had to wake up to go to school. I think I was 8. I didn’t tell her anything.
Once I was ill with stomach cramps whilst mum and dad were on holiday, I was curled up on the chair downstairs sleeping… I hadn’t heard the post come through the door, but I heard my brother come downstairs and burst into the room. He repeatedly hit me saying I ‘wasn’t that ill’ and I could pick up the post. He hit me until I fell off the chair, he hit me until I got up to pick up the post.
I haven’t told my parents any of this about my brother. I don’t think I ever will.
Things got better with dad after the night my mum had to call the police. Dad had my brother by the throat and my mum was powerless. I don’t know the full story of that night I had been left at home (I was 16) and remember waking up to the sound of talking downstairs. My brother told me the next day that mum and dad had started arguing cause dad was drunk, brother intervened to protect mum and ended up with dad’s hands around his throat.
Something clicked with my dad after that, he disappeared for a couple of nights (no the police didn’t lock him up, brother and mum didn’t want to press charges so nothing else came of that night) leaving me and mum worrying and brother not caring at all. He came home eventually and confessed to me where he’d been. He had been driving, he had gone to fight his demons on his own, he had gone to kill himself. He went to a friend’s of both my parents first and she helped him, she convinced him it was time to seek real help, not time to end it all. He’s been my best friend since.
As for my brother … He no longer hurts me physically and as of 2 weeks ago I no longer give him chance to hurt me mentally.